Top 6 Website Traffic Sources + 5 Ways to Leverage Them

In the digital world, traffic jams are just as undesirable as the ones in real life. 

Ideally, your site should receive a flow of visitors as smoothly as…

And that’s where website traffic sources come in.

Tracking website traffic sources and pinpointing the most impactful traffic channel is essential for growing your online business. Overall, embracing a multi-layered strategy is smart — but only if you understand how to track and analyze channels properly.

Don’t know where to start?
Join us as we unravel the secrets of web traffic sources and their role in empowering online businesses.

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Let’s jump in!

What Are Website Traffic Sources?

A traffic source is a channel through which visitors discover your SaaS website. These sources include organic search, direct, and referral — more on that later.

They represent the paths users take to reach your site, providing insights into your online presence and how people discover and interact with your brand.

What Type of Company Should Track Website Traffic?

Tracking site traffic is essential for all businesses with an online presence.

As a business owner, you’re probably familiar with the challenge of standing out in a saturated online market. 

Analyzing web traffic allows you to:

  • Gain valuable insights into audience behavior.
  • Assess the impact of your marketing strategies.
  • Identify which sources drive the most traffic, conversions, and highest-quality leads.

With this knowledge, you can optimize your marketing efforts, enhance user experience, and attract more targeted traffic to your website.

So, what are the primary web traffic sources?
Let’s break down each one.

The 6 Main Types of Website Traffic Sources You Should Track

There are six major channels, each requiring unique strategies to boost traffic and conversions:

1. Organic Search

Organic search traffic is when visitors discover your site through unpaid search engine results, meaning it’s basically free traffic.

Besides being cost-effective, you naturally appear on Google search when users type in keywords relevant to your business instead of via pushy advertising, which builds trust.

How can you leverage the best free traffic source?

To increase organic search traffic, you should:

  • Invest in website SEO (search engine optimization) by creating high-quality, keyword-rich content, optimizing meta tags, headers, and URLs, and ensuring clear navigation.
  • Earn authoritative backlinks from relevant and trustworthy websites to increase your website’s authority and visibility.
  • Improve your website’s loading speed to enhance user experience and get a good search result ranking.
  • Ensure your website is mobile-friendly and responsive, as mobile-friendliness is a crucial ranking factor.
  • Use targeted keywords strategically, optimize images, and improve internal linking.
  • Produce valuable, informative, and shareable blog posts to attract consistent SEO traffic.

If this all sounds like a lot of work, it is!

But at least it’s free traffic, right?
Well, not quite. At least, not if you want real results.

Need someone to do the heavy lifting? 
You can rely on the expertise of SEO and content specialists at Startup Voyager to drive organic traffic to your site.

2. Direct Traffic

Direct traffic comes from a visitor who finds your site by typing your website URL into their browser, meaning this site traffic doesn’t come through any other channels.

While many consider this traffic channel to be the top traffic source, it’s important to note that direct traffic also includes unknown traffic sources, such as bookmarks or links in a PDF. 

Keep in mind, you usually only get direct web traffic from users who are already familiar with your business. 

And if you’re getting a lot of it, congratulations! 
You probably have a strong online presence and a loyal customer base 🥳.

Generating this type of traffic may seem tough for early-stage businesses — but it’s not impossible. 

Here’s how you can increase direct traffic:

  • Use offline advertising to drive brand recognition.
  • Launch valuable, shareable tools or resources to attract website visitors.
  • Engage in networking, live events, presentations, or podcasts.

3. Referral Traffic

Imagine there’s a new restaurant in town. 
You’re hesitant to try it until your friend says—

— And suddenly, you’re sold.

That’s how referral traffic works.

Visitors arrive from external sources, such as partner websites or online directories. These are known as backlinks, which can improve your website’s discoverability. 

Of course, acquiring high-quality backlinks isn’t easy. 
Persistence and targeted outreach are key to success.

Here’s how you can increase referral traffic:

  • Implement digital PR strategies to earn media coverage and mentions.
  • Guest post on authoritative websites to gain exposure and backlinks.
  • Submit your website to relevant directories or paid inclusion directories.
  • Engage in influencer marketing on a popular social media platform.

4. Paid Search

Paid advertising is when a visitor reaches your website through:

  • Search engine advertising or PPC (pay-per-click) — e.g., a Google, Yahoo, or Bing ad.
  • Display ads — e.g., visual, banner, or interactive ads on websites, apps, or other digital platforms.
  • Social media site ads — i.e., LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook ads.
  • Sponsored content or native ads — paid advertising that seamlessly blends in with the platform you’re promoting it on.

Typically, companies use platforms like Google Ads to attract website visitors. Like organic search, a paid ad allows for precise targeting by selecting relevant keywords. But because you’re paying for it, results are far more immediate, leading to higher conversion rates.

However, PPC can quickly become expensive, especially if you’re in a highly competitive industry. And you don’t want to invest only to see traffic dry up once you’ve exhausted your budget.

Here’s how you can increase paid traffic:

  • Use native ads to promote material that appears organic and less like traditional paid advertising.
  • Conduct thorough keyword research to target relevant and high-converting keywords.
  • Create compelling and optimized ad copy to attract clicks.
  • Continuously monitor and optimize ad campaigns for better performance.
  • Utilize remarketing to re-engage previous website visitors.
  • Test and refine landing pages for maximum conversion rates.

5. Social Media

Social traffic comes from users finding your site via a social media platform like Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, or YouTube.

Social media marketing helps you reach a broad audience, engage with your target market, and build brand awareness. If a post resonates with your social network, people may engage with it, expanding its reach.

That said, social media often has low conversion rates and can be time-consuming. As such, marketing on a social media site may only sometimes deliver worthwhile results.

Here’s how you can increase social traffic:

  • Regularly publish engaging posts on a popular social media platform to attract and retain followers.
  • Create short videos to capture attention and encourage sharing on your social network.

6. Email Marketing

Email traffic comes from a visitor who clicks email links from your company. This source allows you to engage with your audience, deliver targeted messaging, and nurture relationships without breaking the bank.

For instance, sending personalized newsletters or promo emails can entice recipients to click and visit your site.

Here’s how you can increase email traffic:

  • Tailor email campaigns to provide value and encourage click-throughs.
  • Front-load subject lines with keywords for higher open rates.
  • Segment email lists to deliver targeted content.

However, like other channels on this list, building a sufficient email marketing strategy takes time and effort.

So which traffic source should you focus on?
Let’s find out!

What Is the Most Effective Traffic Source for Website Conversions?

Organic traffic is perhaps the best free traffic source, attracting users actively seeking solutions and resulting in higher-quality conversions without blowing your budget.

Let’s face it: Prospects want to feel like they’re being helped, not being sold to.

And the numbers don’t lie — 53% of search engine traffic comes from organic search. Evidently, companies that invest in search engine optimization have the potential to capture a significant portion of web traffic. 

Meanwhile, only 15% comes from a paid traffic source.
On the other hand, paid traffic offers faster growth, making it an advantageous option for those looking for quick results.

Think of organic traffic as your company’s backbone, providing a sustainable, long-term source of valuable, targeted traffic.

To enhance your organic search efforts, you can strategically leverage paid search to target specific demographics, keywords, or time-sensitive promotions for maximum reach and conversions.

But achieving high and organic rankings, consistently producing quality content, and mastering technical SEO aspects takes time, skill, and effort.

Something we can help you with!

In the meantime, here’s how to track your website traffic sources:

How to Track Web Traffic Sources

One of the most popular free web analytics tools is Google Analytics, which provides detailed insights into website traffic, user behavior, conversions, and more. You can also use Google Search Console to assess your content’s performance.

So, what metrics should your SaaS company use to track web traffic?

Here are the most important metrics to follow:

  • Activation Rate: The percentage of users who have completed milestones in your onboarding process, such as signing up for free trials, completing onboarding, or upgrading to paid subscriptions.
  • CTR (Click-through Rate): The percentage of users who click on a specific link or advertisement. CTR is especially relevant for SaaS companies running ad campaigns, as you can evaluate and improve them, increasing user acquisition and conversions.
  • Average Engagement Time: This is the average time users spend on your site or app. Longer periods of engagement indicate users are actively exploring your content, potentially leading to higher conversion and sign-up opportunities.
  • Bounce Rate: The percentage of users who leave your site after viewing one page. High bounce rates may suggest that your landing pages or onboarding process need improvement.

If you’re using Google Analytics 4 (GA4), you may have noticed that reports don’t include some traffic analytic metrics by default.

That brings us to the next question…

How Can You Track Traffic Analytic Metrics in GA4?

We’ll show you the steps:

How to track Activation Rate in GA4:

You can’t track activation rates in GA4. However, you can define specific event parameters that indicate a successful conversion event. For example, you can track the ‘confirmation’ or ‘signup-success’ page as a conversion event whenever a visitor signs up for a free trial.

Depending on your platform, you may need to implement a tracking method by coding, adding tracking tags, or using Google Tag Manager.

How to track CTR (Click-through Rate) in GA4:

If you want to calculate an ad campaign’s CTR, you can’t automatically track paid ad clicks in GA4. However, you can track ad clicks in your web analytics report by integrating GA4 with Ad Manager.

How to track Average Engagement Time in GA4:

Step 1: Navigate to Reports on the left side of your Google Analytics dashboard.

Step 2: Under Engagement, select Pages and screens.

Step 3: Scroll down to find the Average engagement time for each website page.

How to track Bounce Rate in GA4:

For this metric, we’ll have to do a bit of customizing!

Step 1: On Pages and screens, click Customize report (the pencil icon in the upper right-side corner).

Step 2. Select Metrics on the right side of your dashboard (under Report Data).

Step 3: Type ‘Bounce rate’ in the Add metric box.

Step 4: If the metric doesn’t show up, it’s already in the report. If it does appear, click Apply and save changes.

And there you have it!

How Often Should You Measure Web Traffic?

While the marketing department or dedicated analytics team can handle day-to-day monitoring, business owners should review search engine traffic reports at least monthly, if not weekly.

However, different sources have varying monitoring needs.

  • Referral and direct traffic: Monitor monthly or quarterly since these sources are less affected by algorithm changes and user behavior.
  • Organic search and SEO traffic: Monitor weekly or monthly to identify trends and fluctuations in search engine visibility.
  • Paid search and social media: Monitor paid traffic more frequently, ideally weekly or daily, due to real-time bidding and rapid impact. Social traffic follows closely, requiring a similar monitoring frequency due to its dynamic nature.

By regularly monitoring your web traffic, you can stay informed about the effectiveness of your website and optimize your efforts to achieve better results.

Skyrocket Website Traffic with a Game-Changing SEO Strategy

According to Ahrefs, around 95% of the pages they looked at didn’t reach the top 10 SERPs in a year. It’s extremely difficult to get a high-ranking search result on Google search, especially in the SaaS industry.

Need some help?
At Startup Voyager, we excel at helping startups achieve substantial growth lightning-fast.

Through a robust SEO strategy, we’ll pinpoint high-converting keywords, level up your content’s performance, and drive insane organic search traffic to your site. Soon enough, you’ll outrank competitors in your field like a champ.

How fast can we get you ranking?
In less than a year, we can help your online business drive crazy SEO traffic and even outrank well-established companies.

This is without any backlinks.

If you want a taste of that SEO magic, contact one of Startup Voyager’s specialists today to generate an extraordinary influx of organic search traffic to your website.

About the author

Startup Voyager is a content and SEO agency helping startups in North America and Europe acquire customers with organic traffic. Our founders have appeared in top publications like Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Inc, Huffpost, Lifehacker, etc.